WSPA report reveals plight of captive dolphins in holiday hotspots

Oct 15, 2010

October 2010

Throughout Mexico and the Dominican Republic, holiday meccas for North American and European tourists, a bleak picture of life for the dolphins in captivity has been uncovered by a new WSPA report.

The Report on Captive Dolphins in Mexico and the Dominican Republic reveals that the lives of performing dolphins are unnaturally short and full of physical and emotional suffering. The report was commissioned by WSPA and was researched and written by Dr. Yolanda Alaniz, in collaboration with Fundacion Dominicana de Estudios Marinos Dominican (FUNDEMAR), the Dominican Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, all of which have a history of involvement in dolphin welfare in the region.

The report describes in detail the state of the two countries’ captive dolphin facilities which are largely found in or near resorts frequented by international tourists. The report also documents the acts of cruelty suffered by captive dolphins as well as the consequences of this cruelty to the animals’ welfare. “Witnessing the cruel impacts of confinement on these intelligent creatures convinced us to uncover the consequences of captivity for dolphins and their populations,” says Dr. Alaniz.

“For several years WSPA has supported initiatives to understand the problems of dolphins in captivity. We can thus identify opportunities to run an effective campaign to promote alternatives to see and enjoy dolphins in their natural habitat, without having to confine and submit them to abuse,” stated Marcela Vargas, WSPA’s Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean region Campaigns Manager.

The report details the generic layout of captive dolphin facilities, in existence in Mexico since 1970 and in the Dominican Republic since 1995. These are largely designed for the comfort of visitors and without consideration for the welfare of the dolphins. Older establishments have closed concrete pools, while newer ones may consist of a sealed-off section of ocean also referred to as a sea pen.
The top causes of death among captive dolphins in Mexico include pneumonia, septicaemia, drowning, trauma, and stress leading to chronic illnesses all of which are a result of their confinement and poor handling by trainers and vets. In the Dominican Republic, trainers were found to have mistreated dolphins in two out of three establishments, while in another facility the abuse was carried out by visitors.

WSPA plans to use this report to help analyze and modify legislation in both countries to improve the conditions of captive dolphins and to raise public awareness and understanding that confinement of these animals, anywhere in the world, is unjustified, cruel and inhumane.

For more information on the negative effects of captivity on the welfare of dolphins, read WSPA’s Case Against Marine Mammals in Captivity report >>


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